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Day Four, 2007 Vancouver International Film Festival
Suffering and Salvation on a Rainy Sunday in Vancouver


The rains continued to pour down throughout the day, the only respite a few stolen hours inside a darkened movie theatre watching independent, foreign and documentary film that, in all likelihood, will never find its way back to our sodden west coast shores. And, it was ever thus. The talk in the early part of the day was of Telefilm Canada, the idealist versus the pragmatic argument: can't Canada produce better films, says one, while the other replies: Telefilm Canada exists to provide an opportunity for novices in the filmmaking industry to gain experience. Still, the question remains: Can't Canada make better films, films which reflect who we are and present Canadians to the world in a way that expresses our distinct culture?

The first film of the day, on a soggy Sunday morning, was ...

4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (Grade: A): Downbeat, harrowing at times, with an unforgiving strain of melancholy throughout, director Cristian Mungiu sets his Romanian tale of an unwanted pregnancy in 1987 Bucharest, employing a handheld dogme filmic style to track Otilia (Anamaria Marinca) and her friend, Găbiţa (Laura Vasiliu) through the arrangements the two make for a black market abortion. Minimalist filmmaking, with extended tracking shots that serve to explore the discomfort of the protagonists, however difficult 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days may be to watch, there is no question that this is tour-de-force filmmaking. Screening again Monday, October 8th at 7 p.m., and Thursday, October 11th at 4 p.m., once again this is must-see 2007 VIFF film fare.

Taking a midday break and a journey home, VanRamblings returned to the Festival wars at 3:30 p.m. for a screening of ...

For the Bible Tells Me So (Grade: B+): A conventional documentary that has something of importance to say, that presents its arguments against intolerance in a reasonable and sincere manner, without seeming to hector you, or lecture you ... just good old-fashioned advocacy filmmaking. As Justin Chang writes in his Variety review, "Filmmaker Daniel Karslake lobs a grenade into the culture wars with his heartfelt, provocative and unabashedly polemical For the Bible Tells Me So, which examines the intersection of homosexuality and religion ..." Another 2007 VIFF must-see.

Bookending the day was the Cannes winner for Best Actress ...

Secret Sunshine (Grade: B): The story of a distraught mother who, first, loses her husband, and then her son, there was something unsettling and threateningly magical realist about this story of loss and salvation gone wrong. Intriguing and compelling to watch, yet somehow distant and dramatically unsatisfying, there's no question Jeon Do-yeon gives a startlingly vivid performance as a woman coming to terms with unfathomable family tragedy, and for that alone this film is worth catching.

VanRamblings will slow posting throughout the week (actual "being at the office" work beckons), yet we'll attempt to post sporadically. For the next couple of days, this is what is on our film schedule radar ...

On Monday ...

The Counterfeiters, and the raucous London to Brighton.

And, on Tuesday ...

Iska's Journey, which Variety reviews here. And, in the late evening ...

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, which is reviewed by Variety here.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at September 30, 2007 11:58 PM in VIFF 2007


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